Australians are an ingenious bunch. Google maps, the black box flight recorder and Cochlear implant are just some of the modern day inventions developed on our shores.
Another industry where we lead the world in terms of innovation: wine.
Unfettered by the traditions and restrictive regulations that govern European winemakers, Australian producers are free to challenge Old World ways.
Our producers are continually analysing the science of wine, experimenting with new technologies and redefining long-standing habits in the vineyard and in the winery.
Wine scientists like Dr Ray Bechworth and lateral thinkers like Ian Hickinbotham have ensured we lead the world in wine chemistry. Some of the many advancements attributed to Australians include the isolation of the malolactic bacteria, culturing of specific yeast strains and pH management.
Our winemakers have also embraced technology. Using stainless steel, temperature controlled tanks, air bag presses, cross-flow filters and high speed bottling lines have helped our wines soar in quality.
And, instead of trying to create blends similar to European counterparts, our winemakers are developing game-changing wines that reflect our unique climate.
According to 2015 Gourmet Traveller WINE Winemaker of the Year Stephen Pannell, “The world doesn’t look to Australia for an affirmation of a tradition of wine. The world looks to us for innovation.”
Through his boutique wine label S.C. Pannell, Stephen is challenging the status quo and producing a range of stunning wines suited to Australian sensibilities.
On his eight-hectare Tapestry vineyard in the heart of McLaren Vale, he has planted touriga in place of chardonnay, Riesling has been grafted to tempranillo and he is exploring other Mediterranean varieties such as assyrtiko, aglianico and xinomavro.
The result of his approach is a range of award-winning wines that perfectly reflect place. Pannell’s 2013 Adelaide Hills Syrah won him the Jimmy Watson Trophy; the 2013 Tempranillo Touriga won four trophies at the Australian Alternative Varieties Show at Mildura; an earlier vintage won him the Bushing King title at the McLaren Vale Wine Show. And, both his grenache and nebbiolo are among the country’s best examples of the varieties.
Pannell is constantly striving to make wines that people enjoy. “Mine is a journey of new varieties, new things and trying to be creative. I don’t worry about boundaries.”
This article is based on interviews conducted by Gourmet Traveller WINE magazine.
Perpetual is a proud supporter of the Gourmet Traveller WINE Winemaker of the Year Award.